Innovative Retailer: Miner’s North Jewelers’ Wayne Guntzviller

“Crafty” is this Michigander’s middle name

Give Wayne Guntzviller a code and he’ll crack it—a QR code, that is. Together with his wife and business partner, Beth, ­Guntzviller has turned his store, Miner’s North Jewelers—located in Traverse City, Mich., where the population balloons from 15,000 to nearly 2 million every summer when out-of-towners descend for tourist season—into a retail referendum on the mobile marketing power of Quick Response codes. Readable by smartphones, the two-dimensional barcodes are plastered all over the store, thereby enabling Guntzviller to virtually greet, acknowledge, and educate hundreds of customers with a simple scan of their phones.

Why are you making your store a QR code superstore and what will that entail?

Our store is located in a vibrant downtown business district that has two busy selling seasons. Whether it’s the summer tourist season or Christmas, there’s always a lot of foot traffic. With QR codes and mobile technology, we’ll be able to connect with existing and potential customers at every conceivable touch point, from exterior windows of the store to in-store displays with product-specific QR code signage. We even offer Wi-Fi in the store. Mobile technology is second nature to younger demographics, and our goal is to be accessible to them.

Why now?

To advance our social media websites, which is all part of growing our online presence. It’s about communicating more with our customers and how they communicate with others about us. Over the past two to three years, people in jewelry stores have been using their mobile devices, taking pictures of jewelry and sending them to a family member or friend, uploading them to Facebook or tweeting about it on Twitter. This is now part of the jewelry-buying experience, and QR codes are going to facilitate this new in-store experience for us.

What are some QR code ideas you have for the store?

Some of the ideas we’ve developed include QR codes on the exterior windows that will [lead to] a QR code–specific website, such as a video of someone from the store saying, “You just scanned me; why don’t you come in and check us out?” We’ll also have QR codes on all of our displays so people can learn about our name brands, the Lakeshore Collection, and other products. Plus, there are times when our small [1,600-square-foot] store is so packed with customers, scanning QR codes can be a high-tech way of greeting customers as well as function as sales tools. When people know more about the products, it shortens the sales presentation. 

How about for customers?

We’re currently working on QR code birthday cards. We would create unique QR codes each month for customers. When the QR code is scanned, the customer would view a 10-second video of the Miner’s North staff singing “Happy Birthday.” At the end, we’d let the customer know that the QR code birthday card is also a $25 gift card. This could be redeemed by verifying the name of the customer in our database at the store. This could also be done on other gift-giving occasions such as anniversaries.

How has your own Lakeshore Collection branded the store in your market?

The Lakeshore Collection got its start 10 years ago with Petoskey Stone [the state stone of Michigan] jewelry. Over the years I’ve added other locally sourced stones. But the most successful addition was a special 90-facet diamond, exclusively provided to us by a vendor. Now the Lakeshore Collection is our No. 3 product category in terms of sales. Lakeshore Collection diamond-set rings are now our third-best-selling diamond brand. Entry-level price points for jewelry start at $30, with most of the finer Petoskey Stone pieces priced under $300, and no items priced over $500.

How are you growing your online presence to accommodate out-of-market sales?

It’s a combination of tools. We’re going to give local bars and restaurants ring sizer coasters that will have a QR code on it, providing information on the store and the cross-promotional partner. We’ll also be doing more videos, such as shooting staff members at trade shows. More Facebook-based events and having people “like” us using an iPad at the cash-wrap area will bring those numbers up. And more Lakeshore Collection SKUs on our e-commerce–enabled website will increase organic searches from Google for Petoskey Stone jewelry.

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